Saturday, January 28, 2012

a few savings ideas

So here we are a month into the new year - how has everyone been doing with their New Year's resolutions?  I have probably been keeping up with half of mine, half the time...which I am actually pretty happy about.  I'll do a post update next week.

I am assuming whether it was a resolution for you or not, most people would like to save more money. (Me, me, me!!!!)  But the trick to doing so WITHOUT sacrificing quality of life or the things you like to buy and it takes some learning.

I went on a savings quest 2 years ago.  Since that time, I really have just learned how to coupon.  This has been wonderful at helping me still get what I want (organic milk for instance, most of the time), but I pay less money.  I consistently save more than I spend (spending $65 for instance but saving $75).  My favorite part of couponing is getting most of our toiletries for free (shampoo, lotion, toothpaste/brushes, etc) so that I free up "real food" money.  I am still learning, though.  I don't like how I do some months - this past one I spent $497 on groceries and household needs - so all drugstore (not Bailey's Rx) and grocery trips.  Now, when I started this journey I spent upwards of $150/wk, so spending $500 a month would have been good!  This past month I had to rebound from not couponing at all through December, so we went through some of our stockpile - esp meat and I had to replenish.  This next month, my goal is to spend $400 - all of the things we need and to continue to build my stockpile.

Anyway, here are a few things I just implemented this year to save more at the store.

*No more lunchmeat at the deli counter.  Even at $4.99/lb which is a SALE price for Boar's Head turkey, that is just too much!  I was spending at least $10/wk on Kevin's lunchmeat.  So now I am cooking up an extra serving or two of whatever meat I am making that week - chicken breast for instance, or london broil, and I slice it thin for his sandwiches.  I also have been making egg/tuna/chicken salad a few times, and he gets pb&j at least once a week.   I have 2 turkeys in the freezer that I got for .39/lb at Thanksgiving time that I look forward to cooking soon and saving some of that meat for his sammies.

*Speaking of meat, I have been stretching it with more veggies and sides.  I have been making soup once a week also, which helps too - soup is a frugal meal.

*I stay on top of what's in the fridge.  I used to waste too much!  I'd have high hopes of my kids eating blueberries let's say, and maybe we'd make it through one pint not two.  For shame!  Now I flash freeze the berries (and any other fruit/veg that can freeze) after a few days to insure it won't go to waste.  Our fave way to eat fruits that are in the freezer are in smoothies and waffles, and for veggies - soup.

*Buy big, and separate.  This new year, I have switched most of the girls yogurt to organic.  When they were babies/toddlers they ate organic, but I got away from it in favor of Gogurts for school - so easy to pack!  Well, I'll still buy go-gurts once in awhile but they eat yogurt every day, so now they are getting organic and I buy the quart size and separate it into reusable containers for their lunches and freeze the night before so it stays cool until lunch.  Sometimes it is cheaper to buy small and use a coupon (ie - if a coupon says $1 off, any size - use 4 coupons and get 4 of the smaller one that's on sale for $2, than buying the bigger one that's $8.  So you spend $4 for the same amount of product, than buying the bigger one and spending $7.  See?) but in instances such as the yogurt, it's cheaper to buy big.  (Stonyfield Farms has coupons on their website by the way - you can still coupon with organic!)

*Speaking of couponing organic, look through your circular!!  Last week at ShopRite I scored Gala organic apples (my fave!) and organic cut baby carrots for .99/lb with a coupon that was in the circular.  No limit was on the apples, so I got a huge bag, apples last for a while.

*I made a list of products I like, and am going to be emailing the companies.  I have done this a few times, but want to do more of it.  My favorite coupon I received from emailing the company so far has been Eggland's best - they sent me 4 .50 off coupons.  I waited for a sale - SR then had Eggland's best for $1.77 - the .50 doubled (most grocery stores double coupons, drugstores and supercenters like Target and Walmart don't) so I got the eggs for .77 each.

Do you have any tips?  I'd love to hear them!!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

the best present

If you asked your children what the best present they ever got was, what would they say?

These cats - Cocoa and Oreo - were for the girls' 7th and 5th birthdays, last year.  They have been a lot of work - and expense - but they have brought so much joy to our life.  Taylor loves her cat (yes, the one trying to wriggle out of her arms in the pic) so much that she asked if Cocoa could wait to go to Heaven until she does bc she always wants to be with him.  And yes, someday (good things cats can live a long time) the girls will have to go through saying good-bye to Cocoa and Oreo.  I'm hoping it will be the only lesson in death they have until they are much older. (Wishful thinking I am sure - but Kevin was a married man with children when he lost anyone special to him, his Pop).

Chillin' after school.  Being around people all day is exhausting for a Tater Tot.  

Oreo loves his mommy so much.  The rest of us he's not sure about.

I'd love to know what the best present your kids ever got was.  It might surprise you what their answers will be!  You may think it will be the Ipod, but maybe it's the time you took them to throw rocks in the lake and have a picnic lunch with a birthday cake.  You might think it would be the Wii, but maybe it's the time you actually said yes ( I haven't yet) to having a sleepover birthday party.

I personally can not remember what my favorite birthday gift growing up was.  I can remember Christmas, but not birthday gifts.  But what I do remember is that for many years my dad would help me make a heart shaped birthday cake, and we'd decorate it together.   My mom has some kitchen-cleanliness issues, and didn't let me help in the kitchen much.  My dad had some other issues, and time with him could be fraught with tension.  But all I remember about those times was the thrill of baking and decorating that cake, and it was fun and carefree.  Precious memories to me now.

Sometimes the best gift you could ever give - or receive - costs nothing but time, thought and love.  These cats on the other hand, are costing me tons.

But they are earning their keep.  I mean, look how sweet he is with Taylor.  It must be confusing to him, to have a mommy that acts like a cat but looks like a human.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Simple pleasures

I haven't done a top 10 in a while, so I thought I'd do one.  Here are my top 10 simple pleasures in life.

1.  Tucking in my girls.  Unless I've had it with them.

2.  Date night in.  Date night out.  You get the gist.

Yes, my pants are bright orange, it's not your eyes.

3.  Being at the beach with my girlfriends and all of our kids together, for the whole day and into the evening.  Wow I miss that so much the 8 months of the year we can't do it.  Now, let me clarify that not every moment is a pleasure...the million trips to the bathroom with Tate who needs her sensory breaks, the million screams of "That's far enough Bailey!  Far enough Taylor.  GIRLS!!!  Listen to me or you will sit out!  Bailey, stop going underwater when I'm talking to you!  Taylor!!  I SAID THAT'S FAR ENOUGH!!"  But the sun, the water, my children's joy, being with great friends who don't bat an eye at me in my skirted bathing suit, the feeling of my toes digging into the sand, the gratitude I feel that this is my life - I love it.

My beach beauties - Taylor is 4 yrs old here, Bailey is 6.  Waaa that they are now 8 and 6.  Or yay depending on the day.
4.  Holding my infant nephew.  He is precious.

5.  Shopping and talking with my mom.  I love her.

We spent the day in NYC, also with my cousin, her daughter, and my aunt.  We had the best time seeing the Statue of Liberty from this boat ride, but the best part of the day was picking out American Girl dolls and having tea at the AG store.  SO FUN!!!  God knew what He was doing making me a mama of girls, I love it.

6.  Reading.  Preferably in the tub.  Preferably without the kids or Kevin interrupting me every other sentence.

7.  Talking to my sis-in-law on the phone.  For hours.  She is fun.

8.  Getting a backrub from Kevin.  He's rad.  (We don't use that word nearly enough anymore.  I'm going to bring it back).

9.  Listening to classical music with a hot cup of coffee.

10.  Going to church on Sundays with my family.  I love every single part of it.  The whole day is nice actually.

I want to go to the beach right now!!!!!!!!!!!

I'd love to hear YOUR simple pleasures!!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Why I hope they don't have a nanny-cam

So 2 days a week I babysit for a just-turned-2 year old and thank God, but he hasn't gotten the memo that he can now be in his "terrible twos," and he is an angel.  I love him so much!!   He is cuddly, and funny, and so easy on the eyes with his chubby belly and sweet feet that he crosses when he sits.  I am way too attached.

Anyway, I am good friends with this family I sit for, but you never know if they have some kind of nanny cam rigged in every room.  They're high tech people, and I totally get it if they did - that's their baby.   If they do, most of the time they will find me taking care of their boy - and couponing while he naps.

Most of the time I don't think about such a camera, but once in awhile I do when I, you know, go to the bathroom with the door wide open bc I don't want him to do something on my watch - like put a marble up his nose or a Thomas train down his throat.  And I thought about the camera.

So we were downstairs where the playroom is, and I had brought down a cup of water for myself.  I sat on the floor, and put the cup behind a ride-in car that they have down there.  I actually thought, "Self, you are being dumb bringing that water down here.  It's going to spill."  And sure enough, somehow the car got bumped and water spilled and soaked my bum.  I quickly stood up trying to figure out exactly how soaked I was - very.  Ok, we only had about 45 minutes until we left, and after dropping him off to Mommy, I had to run to the store for milk and such.  Now, for some reason since becoming a mom and basically losing all sense of style and dignity, I never mind anymore going to the store in my sweats.  I don't mind going most anywhere in my sweats, except maybe to church on Sunday.  But I did mind looking like I pissed myself.  I grabbed a towel from their bathroom and blotted up all the water, and went to the laundry room to see if I could dry my pants.  Since my little guy doesn't talk much and say at an inopportune time something like, "Miss B was walking around our house with no pants on", I felt ok taking my pants off to throw in their dryer for 10 minutes.  I didn't feel great, I felt just ok.  Unders too.  I yanked my t-shirt as far down as I could while I waited for a few minutes and then I smartened up and realized I could just hold the towel around my waist.  (I'm not too quick).  Every few minutes I'd check to see if they were done.  At one point, bending over to reach in the dryer to check, I dropped the towel.

This is the precise moment when I was hoping they don't have a nanny-cam.  Full moon.  Not to mention the fact that these are skinny people, and they have normal sized towels, not the "bath sheet" kind I favor, which would have fully covered me while I waited for the pants to dry.  Instead, this normal towel gives you more than a peek at what's going on under there.

If they can't look me in the eye without either laughing or crying, I will know I have been cammed.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

best and worst

Every night at dinner we do the whole "what was the best/worst" part of your day.  We've only been doing this for maybe a year - dinners before then looked like this:

"Taylor, please sit on your bottom.  Taylor, please stop crying because there are green beans on the table.  Taylor, please stop gagging you don't even have anything in your mouth."

You get the picture.

Anyway, when we sit down together, this is something that starts great conversation.  We also ask the kids when they have "seen God" that day, a concept Bailey gets and Taylor really doesn't, but when she hears Bailey's answer "I saw God when Xander picked me for the 7-up game" she'll answer similarly.

Sometimes the best/worst game is about things at school, sometimes home.  Sometimes their answers make me swell with pride, sometimes I cringe.  But now that my girls are getting older and can hold a conversation like that, I am trying to make time to really listen.  I want to set the stage for them to be used to talking to us and sharing about their day and feelings.

Of course, having 2 girls who already seem to be divas, I expect some eye-rolling in the future when I ask these kind of questions.  That's ok, I'll just take away their itouches - which is fine by me, I want to play with them anyway!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Unexpected opportunites

I recently read a book on Truett Cathy, the founder of Chick-Fil-A.  I expected it to be a boring read to be honest with you, but I couldn't put the book down!  And the message that I took away from the book - besides what an amazing man he is - is that we always have to be on the look-out and ready for "unexpected opportunities."  Truett Cathy is a brilliant businessman to be sure, but I think we have even more to learn from him as someone who seeks out to considerably help others, and change their lives, every day.  He has fostered hundreds of children, as an example.  Associate pastor Randy Peterson spoke on this topic of opening yourself to opportunities also, in his message at church this past Sunday- so I "got the message" and have been really reflecting on that.  Basically, an unexpected opportunity is when you are not looking at that time, to find yourself in a position to help someone, but something happens and you are able to.

Too often, I busy myself with to-do list stuff that doesn't open myself up to interaction with people.  If I have a day where I'm not working at the church or babysitting - which is currently 2 days a week - I am a hermit.  I do my couponing, cleaning, cooking, etc...and yes, I consider that serving my family, or "helping" someone.  But it is too comfortable, too mundane...and not giving God the chance to use me for others.  There are seasons - first coming to mind, the season of having babies and toddlers - where most of your time will be spent serving your family, with little time to serve elsewhere.  Sometimes we are in a season where we need to focus on becoming healthy, and we are unable to give much of ourselves.  I have been through seasons like that, but for the last few years, I am in a season with time to give, and I have.  But God has been pressing on my heart that He has a change in store for me, and I don't know what that is yet.  I tried to get a part-time job at a social work agency, and they hired a full-time staffer instead.  I was disappointed at first, but then I realized that this may be God's handiwork in guiding me towards what He has in mind for me - and I guess that job wasn't it.  For now, anyway.

I am excited about what's coming.  I just feel like something is.  Or maybe it's just more of what I have done already - like sending encouragement notes to people, or making meals.  I do not do that nearly as often as I goal should be weekly.  I feel that I need to do more serving, more encouraging, more interacting with people.  As I do so, I will be teaching my girls 2 crucial Biblical principles - giving and loving.  There is nothing I want more for them, than for their hearts to be generous and full of God's love, spilling over into the lives of their friends and family.  I want them to be healthy, happy, prosperous...of course, all of those things.  But more than anything, I want them to know God, and live God.  I want them to believe in Jesus, and live for him in all they do.  How will they do that, if they don't see their mother living that way.

So tonight I am making a meal for a family.  It's something that I know how to do, and an opportunity presented itself.  On Saturday Kevin and I have our small group dinner, and we are going to be leading a study with other married couples on the book The Five Love Languages.   But I am going to keep my eyes and ears open for more opportunities.

What are ways that you serve?

Monday, January 16, 2012

pat your back

So, I have learned in these past several years, that if you are a Mama, you have guilt.  Mine started when I was newly pregnant.  I realized, counting on my fingers one morning, that I was *late.*  So I dug out a pregnancy test from the closet that I had received in a shower gift, and took it.  I needed to start getting ready for work, so I jumped in the shower, leaving the test on the bathroom counter.  I truly didn't expect it to be positive, it really was just for my peace of mind that I was just late out of stress or the cold I had just had.

Mid-shower I peeked at the test.  2 lines and they weren't light.  Glaring was more like it.  I took it in my hand, and was just shocked looking at it - and then I slipped in the shower.  Fell right on my heiney, the water falling on me...and was immediately guilty!  Pregnant?!  And I fell already!!!  Oh my gosh, and the cold medicine I took last week!!  I haven't been taking folic acid...I haven't been taking any vitamins at all!!

You get my drift?  How often a day do we berate ourselves as mommies?  When we let our kid eat a bag of fruitsnacks, and don't insist they finish their soup.  And when I say soup, I mean the canned stuff, so we feel guilty about that too.  How about when we snap at our little angel to HURRY-UP-AND-GET-DRESSED knowing full well that if we had gotten out of bed earlier than little angel, we could help him/her better and possibly make it through the morning without rushing.  We feel guilty letting them watch another 1/2 hour of tv...make that an hour.  We feel guilty every.single.time we compare our weaknesses to another mommy's strengths.  Sure, another mommy may handmake their child's babyfood, blankets, and have scrapbooks that should be showcased in a magazine...but perhaps they sacrifice time with their child to accomplish those things.  Perhaps your strength isn't handmaking a blessed thing, but you love playing football with your kid outside for hours.

Wait...I don't do either of those things...

But my point is, I do have strengths as a mother.  Plenty of weaknesses that yes, sometimes the guilt can be suffocating!  I am trying to get away from that.  I am trying to remember that God made me a certain way, and I would make much better use of my time using the gifts He gave me to the best of my ability, than to wish for other gifts and abilities that don't come naturally to me.  I don't think it's wrong to try to do something that isn't your "gift" - like learning how to sew even if you seem to be all thumbs.  But when you do so only out of guilt, or to measure up to someone else, it's not going to go well.

So what are your strengths as a mother?  Take some time today to think about it, and give yourself a nice pat on the back.

Saturday, January 14, 2012


"I'll take 2 iced teas, please."

This is what Taylor said to me, waking me up this morning.

"Taylor, you don't drink iced tea and we don't have iced tea - go ask Bailey to get you water." (Daddy was playing basketball or I would have pawned her off on him first).

Yes, moms of little ones - this is what you have to look forward to!!!  In a few years, your older child can serve your younger one so you can SLEEP MORE!!  It only works if you have a very responsible older child who also loves to tattle tale, you sleep with your door open to be awakened to catastrophe, and you have observed for countless weekend mornings your children's ability to zone in to the tv like statues so you are assured they can't get into trouble.

"I said, I'll take 2 iced teas, please."

So I opened one eye,  and looked at my girl, who was looking at me like, "Are you dumb as dirt or just have a hearing problem?"

I just laid there for a second, and thought about it as I was coming out of my sleepy stupor...and realized she was scripting.

I learned the hard way what scripting is - and in Taylor's case, it is talking to you and you think she's conversing with you, but her end of the conversation is right out of a movie.

When she was 4, one night she woke up whining that her leg hurt.  "I have to go to the leg hurts..." so in the middle of the night there I was, massaging her legs wondering if it was growing pains.  I gave her Tylenol, gave her a bath.  She finally fell back to sleep.

The next day, she starts in again with the bathroom and leg thing.  I say to Kevin "I'm going to have to take her to the doctor I guess, I don't know what's wrong with her..." and Bailey says, "that's from the Up movie Mommy."


So from then on, I had to listen carefully and many times ask Bailey, if Taylor's words were her own or from a movie.  Her pre-k teacher (special ed, so of course she had seen this and understood) told me it is sometimes a way for a child to engage without totally engaging, or they just love that part of a movie, or they need control of a conversation...many reasons.

Regardless, it has made life more interesting.  Many times, more frustrating as I try to get Taylor to talk to me, not repeat something she's seen or heard - and she likes me to play whatever the part is too ("Mommy, say this - SAY IT!!!!!") and insert complete breakdown here.

But as she gets older, it has gotten better.  She doesn't do it as often, and sometimes she's easily talked out of it.  Once in awhile, I play into it, as I would if she was a neurotypical child who's just playing and pretending.  The difference is, if she's doing it out of stress or just play.

This morning, after I figured out where little girlfriend was coming from, I went ahead and got her some "iced tea."  And the kiss she gave me - and I believe it was from Taylor herself and not part of a movie - was so good that I decided to stay up and not go back to bed, and I cuddled with my girls.

Friday, January 13, 2012

it's my 50 cent

So today as I was out running errands, my stomach started growling and I looked at the clock - 2pm.  I wasn't done my errands but I wanted to get something to eat, so I ran into a McDonald's I was about to pass.

Yes, there was also a supermarket close by where I could have gotten fruit, or a salad.  Yes, I just saw the link that's been going around facebook that appears to be some kind of McDonald's legal disclosure about their food basically killing you, or at least rendering you infertile.

But in my defense, I haven't eaten McDonald's in months, and I wasn't going to eat my burger's bun...doesn't that count?  Milk not soda, small not a large fry?  And I parked and walked in, instead of the drive-thru, see?

I'm all about health.

That and the drive-thru line was packed.  Perhaps I'm not the only one forgetting their new year's resolutions already.

So I get in line and my cashier is a middle aged man who wishes he was ANYWHERE but there.  I had sympathy for him and I would have smiled, had he looked at me at all. He takes my order efficiently, which was a Mighty Kids double cheeseburger meal, and asked if I wanted a boy or girl toy (which I will save as a treat to give to Bailey next time we go to CHOP).  He looks disdainfully at the $1off coupon I present him, but completes my transaction.  He hands me my order and says, "Here - your 6pc nuggets."

"Um, sir, I ordered the double cheeseburger meal."

"No you didn't, you wanted nuggets."

"No, thank you though, but I wanted the double cheeseburger."

At this point, I notice the lady that is standing to the side waiting for her 10 pc nuggets and large fish filet meal, looks at me like, "what's your problem, take the nuggets!"  I thought she and I could have been friends bc I was impressed with her order, but no, it looks like she has issues.

So the guy huffily turns around to get my burger, and as he's doing that I notice that I was charged for the nuggets, which cost 50 cents more than the burger.

I want my 50 cents back.  What good is 50 cents you say?  Well, on it's own it won't buy much these days, but that's not the point.  It's mine and I want it.

So he hands me my kids meal, expecting to be done with me, and I said, "um, excuse me sir but I was charged for the nuggets which are more, so can I please have the difference back."

Do you hear my 'sir' and 'please' - I knew I was a pain, but I wanted to be nice about it.

I am all about manners.

He looks at the menu board, searching for the kids meals.  Then he starts huffing, and puffing, (and I'm not kidding, he totally wanted me to know how annoying I was) as he starts playing with the cash register trying to figure out a refund.  He gave me my change, and I thanked him, smiled at the lady who could have been my friend, and left.

And then ate my bunless burger, fries and milk in the parking lot.  It was really good.

So what's my point?  Friends, if you work for your money, and most everyone does, KEEP IT!  That's the point of couponing, shopping with sales, budgeting, etc.  Why pay more money for something than you have to?

Of course, it would have been cheaper for me to run in the wawa for a banana, but that's neither here nor there. :)

things that make you go Hmm...

So I am thinking about growing my blog.  Musing.  Pondering.  Reflecting.

This involves me getting an iphone, so I can take pics and load them to my page.  There are other ways to do this of course, but I want the phone.  I also need how to do the "link" thing.  Happily, I have many friends who actually have a clue and they can show me.

This also involves me thinking about what I want to write about.  Sadly, I have TONS of good stories but I fear I would alienate family members if I shared them.  What's a girl to do?!  Seemingly, I am perfectly fine with telling webworld how much I weigh, but I tremble at the thought of sharing a good in-law story.  (Don't tell them I said that, they'd wonder what story I was thinking of!)

See how scared I am?!

So what should I write about...this is where you come in.

Please tell me what kind of posts you'd like to see (couponing stuff, memories, experiences, special need kid stuff?) and if you'd like me to write more.  I do have a tendency to be feast or famine on this blog and either write several posts in a row or not touch it for weeks.

Ok months.  But I will be more disciplined, if you so desire!

I'll all about making you happy.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

top 5 places

As I write this post, I am laying on my couch with my DVR'd Biggest Loser show on, sipping my coffee and admiring our 2 boy brother-cats snuggling each other.

It is times like these, seeing how much they love and depend on each other, that I am so grateful we took the both of them that day at the shelter.  We went there expecting to get one cat, but 2 seconds into our visit the girls were already arguing about who was going to hold the kitten first and I thought, "Self, you must be crazzzzzy.  You're only getting one?!  You are now inviting your cherub children to fight even more than they already do and a poor little kitten will be in the middle of it?  Self, you best be getting each of the cherubs a kitty if you know what's good for you and the cat.  Tell your husband it won't cost that much more money..."

I lied about the money.  They cost a lot.  But the girls each have a kitty and we're all one big happy family.

Hmm.  Remind me of that the next time I'm about to sling one of those lovely cats out my back door for scratching my couch again, or throwing up a furball on the floor so that I step in it first thing in the morning, or when they tease Maela over and over and over again.  Poor Maela.  She's been our cat since our first year of marriage and she's still wondering why we then got a dog (who died when Tate was a baby, but she actually liked him bc he let her be alpha cat) , then had 2 children (whom she doesn't like) and then 2 cats (whom she hates).

I am so off-topic.  I started by describing my little set-up here at home to illustrate that it's not too shabby.  Sure I had to take an allergy pill bc my carpet is old and dirty, sure 1/2 my cabinets in my kitchen are held together by silly putty and a prayer, and yes my floor in my bedroom is still 1/2 carpet, 1/2 subflooring since the bathroom flood of 2011.  But my house is warm, we have everything we need and much of what we want.  HOWEVER, I can't help letting my mind wander once in awhile to where I would be, if I could be.  

So here are the top 5 places.  Whether or not the hubby and children could be with me, totally depends on my mind and the location.  In my fantasy, they can come and go at whim.

I could also be invisible and spy on people.  But that's something else entirely.

*a lakehouse.  Now, I don't know where, all I know is I want to be in a glorious, huge home right on a lake.  I'd have a boat that I know how to operate, and jet skis.  The maid and chef come daily, and my only responsibilities are to read, write, and depending on the weather, either enjoy the snow fall or work on my tan.  I have no tan to work on, even in the middle of the summer.  But in this fantasy, I do.  I'm also working on my tan in my size 4 bikini.  Well great, now I'm depressed.

*Colorado Rockies.  I have been itching to visit this place recently, ever since seeing the Grand Canyon this past summer.  I am just at a place all of a sudden where I really want to enjoy natural beauty that I have only seen in pictures.

*Italy!!  Kevin can come with me on this one.  But if he annoys me he can get himself a pizza and go back to the room while I sightsee.

*down south.  I don't know, Charleston?  Paula Deen would tell me where to go. Maybe I'd stay with her and she'd make us delicious meals and show us around.  I hope there's lots of quaint main street kind of shopping, bc I'm in the mood for that.  I would have a lot of money to shop with.

*Disney and my kids could totally come with us for this one :)  We'd stay at the finest room on "campus"  - well, I should say rooms because of course the girls are getting their own.

I like thinking of these places on one side of my mind, while the other has to get going on some house chores I hope to get accomplished before taking on more hours working outside the home, which I hope to do soon.

So what are YOUR top 5 places you'd escape to today...if only in your mind :)  It's fun to think about, isn't it?

Sunday, January 8, 2012

my sensory disorder

So, we found out when Tate was 3 that she has a sensory disorder.  It made the first 3 years of her life (read: scream-fest 2005-2008) make sense.  Girlfriend just didn't like - and let us know her feelings, loudly, forcefully and repeatedly - noises, light, movement, change in routine, certain textures, etc etc etc.  ETC.  We have since learned how to deal with it, and although she can still melt down over her shoes making her feet too hot (but Taylor, you can't be barefoot in church.  I'm sorry, you just can't.  Yes I know Jesus wore sandals...but for today, because it's winter and because I said so, you are not allowed to take your shoes off)...she deals, we deal.

Since learning about challenges like sensory disorder (and there are different kinds), I have diagnosed myself with one.  Case in point -  tonight, 5 minutes ago.

me - "Kevin, please.  I can't listen to my show with the clickety-clacking sound you're making on your computer."

K - "Like the sound you're making?"

me - "No.  Yours is different and it's annoying me."

2 minutes pass, both of us not clickety-clacking bc we don't want to be the loud one.

Then the sound of him breathing starts to echo in my ears.

me - "I can hear you breathing and it sounds loud."

K - "That's good, it means I'm alive."

me - "Hmm."

I'll deal I guess.

Thursday, January 5, 2012


Ok this pic is HORRIBLE quality, but Taters took it of Bailey on her ipod, and I charged her ipod through my labtop instead of using the charger, and there it was in iphoto.  like magic! so I have to do Bailey's ipod that way - she has many more, non-blurry pics of herself :)  But this pic with her big fat Oreo baby is so her.

Tonight I took the girls with me to the chiropractor, where I had an appointment and Bailey had a consultation.  Kevin picked up Tatie to take her to her favorite restaurant for dinner - that would be Wendy's - and after the doctor, Boo and I went to her fave, which is Friendly's.

Bailey is going to be seen by the chiropractor as an attempt to increase her lung function.  I am trying to do anything I can to get that number up - she was down 4% at her last visit.  She goes to CHOP quarterly, our next appointment is at the end of Feb and I am praying she is back up.  We added an inhaler and increased her chest PT's (basically that's clapping her on the back, chest and sides with these plastic cup things, it's supposed to thin mucus), we have her back swimming each week and now we're trying this.  If her lung function is not back up, or God forbid worse, she will have to go on a CF drug given by way of a nebulizer, and get a vest.  The vest doesn't bother me, that was only a matter of time until we got that - it's the same thing as us doing her chest PT manually, it's just the vest does it for us.  But the CF drug really bothers me.

So that's just why we were at the chiropractor.  What I really want to talk about is what a sweet, loving girl I have.  She was just a joy this evening.  She was so good with the doctor, and even colored him a great picture while I was being worked on.  She was respectful, a good listener, and kind.  Then while I paid, she befriended a lady in the waiting room.  She is such a open, chatty, friendly.  We used to joke that my dad could talk to a dead man, and Kevin's parents are also like that.  We got to Friendly's and they were out of the one thing she was craving for dinner - their clam chowder, which she just loves.  She hesitated a second - disappointed of course - but then said, "You know what? That's ok.  Really.  I'll have mac and cheese, please."  Now, she's 8 and so I didn't expect a fit, but her ability to just shake off her disappointment and not whine even a little, made me proud.  She colored a picture for our waitress, and wrote on it Have a Good Day!  During dinner we made a list of goals for the next few months, like inviting a different friend over once a month to make their favorite dinner and watch a movie.  She also said, "Mommy, do you want to talk about Jesus?"  I said, "Sure, what do you want to talk about?"  "Nothing...just sometimes I like saying his name and that we can talk about him anywhere, anytime."

Be still my heart!  I was just bursting with gratitude for this girl.  She s really getting 'it.'  'IT' to me is love...kindness, gentleness, patience, courage, generosity, as a mirror of the heart of Jesus.

There are times when I am still for a while, and really watch her like tonight, when I think "God, she is so special.  Please don't take her."  When she was little and such a sweetheart, I would be gripped with a fear so intense it would bring me to my knees, wondering if she was so sweet bc she was an angel, and only here for a short while.  I grew out of that, and don't think that way often anymore.  But there are times I still do, and it's just awful and it robs me of that precious moment we are having.  God does not want me to fear the number of her days, and I don't want to either.  But sometimes it's hard, knowing she does have a disease lurking in her body, that has killed children much younger than her.

Regardless, I am so thankful for my faith, which tells me God loves her more than I do.  Seemingly impossible.  We joke with the girls that I "made you from scratch" but really, God did - her big brown eyes, her brown hair with a hint of gold, her fair skin, her long slender legs, her kind heart.  He created her for good things - He has already blown me away with how He has used her, and her life is really just beginning.  I am so thankful to be a witness to it, so thankful to be her mama.

Growing up, all I knew for sure was that I wanted to be a mommy someday.  Here I am, with 2 precious girls, and I am just overwhelmed with gratitude tonight that they are mine.  They test me, they make me cry, and sometimes, I feel like a failure as a mother.  But with every day that passes, they are learning, and I am too.  Sometimes the lessons are learned the hard way, sometimes it takes several times over to learn.

But tonight, I saw the fruit of some of our labor.  I saw a hint of the young woman that Bailey is becoming, and it is thrilling to watch.  She's still a young girl yes, but I can see more.  Earlier today, in an effort to organize our home movies, I watched a few that were unlabeled.  One was when she was just 3 years old.  I cried, frozen to the couch and gripping the remote, as I listened to her sweet baby voice, and watched as she sang, danced and played.  I wished desperately to go back in time, to hold her as a little one again, to take back some of the precious time I wasted worrying about her health, or trying to survive her little sister's needs.  But the fact is, those moments, those days, happened - days that flew yet dragged by as Kevin and I just tried to muddle through - and here we are, and I want to go back?!  No...

I am really enjoying where we are at.  The children are still young and with that comes all the joy and struggle of their ages.  They still have crying fits, temper tantrums and their sister-fights can have me in tears.  I still struggle to meet all of their needs, and sometimes I really drop the ball.  But we are over the sleepless nights, the poop fests, (what is that you say?  If you've never had a chronically constipated child who needs regular enemas, you can't know), the "what is wrong?!  I wish you could just tell me!", the biting phase, the hitting phase, the crying-like-a-mad-thing phase when Mommy leaves the room or God forbid, pees without you on her lap.  And it feels pretty good.

That being said, I can't promise that I won't want to steal your baby.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Monthly Menu Plan

I have been in a couponing slump.  I still love it and value it, don't get me wrong.  But I was too busy in December and did nothing, so now I have quite a bit to do - cutting coupons, organizing them and cleaning out my binder of expired ones.  I needed to take stock of what I have in the house, and what I will need to keep my eyes out for, coupon-wise and sale-wise.  I need to get back on track - for heaven's sake last night I spent full price for yogurt!!

For the last few months I have done a monthly meal plan in the beginning of the month so that I have an idea of the holes I need to fill in.  For example, if I know I want to make my Aunt Evelyn's great recipe for a turkey pot pie, I will need to get pie crust bc there ain't no way I'm making one from scratch.   I don't fill in the days I want to make the particular meals until each week begins and even then, sometimes I'll write "meatloaf" on say a Wednesday evening but then we end up having spaghetti instead bc I ran out of time or just didn't feel like making it.  The point is more for me to know what I have and what I need to buy when it goes on sale so we can have that meal at some point.  I only write down about 21 meals, bc I figure we'll eat out a few times and have leftovers a few times.  I don't usually fill in side dishes unless I know I need to buy the ingredients bc I always have rice, potatoes, pasta, veggies, fruit on hand.

Keep in mind most of these meals are made for just Kevin and I, as my children are picky as sin.  So many nights I make them something else like chicken and mac and cheese or just pour them a bowl of cereal - judge away, I judge myself.  They are improving, and we do eat together, so I appreciate the progress we've made - Tate used to not even want to SEE food we were eating (like asparagus, which she projectile vomited when I made her try a bite and she never forgot it) and she'd beg to eat at her little table...I remember those days so clearly.  Ok I'm getting off track.

*Ham and potato chowder
*Homemade chicken noodle soup
*Veggie beef soup
*Chili and cornbread
*Tuna noodle casserole
*Ravioli and meat sauce
*Pork tenderloin
*Grilled chicken
*Grilled ham and cheese sandwiches, tomato soup
*Freezer ziti (made already in freezer)
*Homemade pizza and/or stromboli
*Roast turkey
*Turkey pot pie
*Creamy turkey wild rice soup
*Pierogies and chicken sausage
*Pork fried rice
*Egg bake and tater tots
*Pulled pork, coleslaw
*Spinach shells
*Veggie pasta bake
*Chicken parm

So most of these meals, thanks to previous sales and coupons, I have most of the ingredients for already.   I love to cook and although I know how to make all of these meals except for the wild rice soup and stromboli, in the coming months I want to try more new recipes.  Have any good ones?

How do you plan your meals?


So yesterday as I was bent over cleaning some nooks and crannies that had accumulated cat hair and dust so thick it looked like a rug, Taylor came up behind me and asked what I was doing.  Because I was dripping tears and snot bc of my bad allergy to dust, I almost was sassy with her and shot back, "what do you THINK I am doing Tate?!"  but I didn't bc I realized she is not accustomed to seeing me scrub things, because I hate to, and genuinely was probably confused.

So I sat back and said, "I am cleaning."  She looked at me with her head cocked a bit, and said, "Well, you look like a kind of Cinderella, the part where she's in rags and cleaning, not the part where's she's fancy in a dress."

me - "Well, I'll still take that as a compliment."

Tate - "What's compliment mean?"

me - "It's where you say something nice to someone.  Like if I say, "Taylor you are being kind and sharing with your sister, I love it!" then I am complimenting you."

Tate - "I wasn't complimenting you."

I then told her to go find her cat and put it in a dress or something, and continued cleaning.  I started thinking about what chores I still wanted to complete and what I could pass off to the girls.  I ended up not passing anything off to them, and I thought about that after they went to bed.  I have really not held the girls accountable to any regular chores, ever.  Yes, they help me here and there, but it's random.  I have wanted desperately for them to enjoy being kids - but I fear that I am doing them a disservice, and they are not being taught responsibility.

So in addition to my hope that this year they will continue to learn about and display fruits of the Spirit  -

Galatians 5:22-23

New International Version (NIV)
 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23gentleness and self-control. 

I want them to learn also some lessons about family responsibility.  I am thinking that this is where I will start - 

*Daily straighten of bedroom.  Weekly pull off sheets and blankets for Mommy to wash.  

*Weekly chore of Mom's choosing such as helping to clean the bathroom or dusting (although I don't want Bailey to do much of that bc of her I guess I'll have her do things like fold the towels, separate laundry).

*Continue to clear table but now alternate nights of setting the table and then loading dishwasher.

*Alternate nights of helping Mommy with dinner.

This seems reasonable to me.  What are your kids chores?

Tuesday, January 3, 2012


I am not a good goal-finisher.  I don't know what my problem is, but I am not a highly motivated person.  There's things I'd love to accomplish, and I just don't.  There are many things I do accomplish, this isn't a Brynn-sucks-at-all-things kind of post, but really, there is a handful of goals I have had FOR YEARS, that have not been completed.  

*Losing weight.  I haven't had the nerve to weigh myself since my BIL's wedding 2 days after Christmas, as the minute I wrangled myself out of my control-top pantyhose, Spanx and dress I was indulging in everything that wasn't nailed down...but I think I lost about 8 lbs over the year.  I'll take it over nothing, but for the past several years at New Years I have said over the year I would lose 50, and once again, I didn't.  Sigh.

*Getting my albums up to date.  I have many done, but several incomplete.  

*Learning how to sell things online.

*Learning how to do things techno-wise instead of long hand.  See, I don't even know how to describe that - what I mean is I want to learn how to be higher tech.  Like using Quicken or something like that.  Goes with the learning how to sell online - I just don't know how to do stuff.  Like make picture albums on my computer - and I have a Mac!  Sin.

You get the gist.  You'd think I wouldn't make any resolutions, but I actually love writing out goals.  So here are this years, and I think it's very reasonable.

2012 - the year Brynn gets a clue.

*A bag a day for 30 days. - One bag of whatever has to leave my house every day to be donated or trashed.  So far a huge bag of papers I was meaning to shred has been burned in our firepit, and 2 bags of clothing from my closet is in my van to be dropped at goodwill.  Later today I am going through the girls dressers.

*Along these lines, getting organized.  I want every nook and cranny of my small house to be organized.  So far I have done my living room hutch, the 2 hall closets and half of my closet.  I want to rid myself of my slight (more than slight) hoarder-ish mentality of "what if I need/want that someday" and "but my kid wrote her name on it and she won't always write her name like that..."

*Adhering to a stricter budget.  I'm thinking of crossing over to a mostly cash budget, but don't know if I can hack it.  We use our CC for everything, then pay it off every month.  But I KNOW we'd spend far less if we used cash.  I want to save more money this year, and complete a few spending goals like getting my much-wished-for hardwood floors, paying off CHOP's bill (although we'll just rack up a new one in Feb, but still), paying for Disney before we go, etc.  Along these lines, I want to bring in more income.

*Making healthy choices, all across the board.  Growing closer to the Lord, and actually listening to him.  Praying more, reading my Bible more, studying more.  Being kind to Kevin, loving him the way he needs/wants - not just the way that's easy for me.  Modeling character traits that I want my girls to develop - a spirit of gratitude, loving, generous, patient.  Being more physically active (we joined a new gym a few days ago and yesterday the girls went swimming, they love it!), making better choices for my health, which hopefully will help my weight.

I know these goals seem lofty.  But I am hopeful, and I know with God's help, if I am obedient He will help me.